Healthcare IT Interoperability, EHR interoperability, Hospital Interoperability

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Cigna, Sentara Healthcare Join Payer Blockchain Initiative

Cigna and Sentara Healthcare are the newest payers to join the initiative to bring blockchain to healthcare.

Cigna, Sentara join payer blockchain initiative

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- Cigna and Sentara Healthcare have joined a new healthcare-focused collaborative that aims to build, share, and deploy solutions using blockchain technology.

The collaborative also includes Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), PNC Bank, and IBM. These organizations will work to identify new ways of addressing a range of industry challenges with blockchain, including enabling secure information exchange, maintaining accurate provider directories, and promoting efficient claims processing.

The network was initially announced in late January 2019, with the original five companies partnering to achieve interoperability and transparency in healthcare.

“We came together to create the health utility network realizing the need to improve transparency and interoperability in the industry in order to improve healthcare for all Americans,” said Rajeev Ronanki, chief digital officer of Anthem, Inc.

“Engaging additional members across partner levels and industry perspectives will increase the network's reach and ability to deliver high value solutions.”

The member organizations believe that blockchain can transform the industry by creating new ways to share and secure data across a business network.

“The distinctive attributes of blockchain is enabling collaborations between parties that could not easily take place previously, and with that entirely new business models are emerging,” said Lori Steele, general manager for Healthcare and Life Sciences for IBM. 

“The byproduct of this is the ability to link organizations in real-time and in ways that can ultimately improve the patient experience.”

One of the main areas of focus for the collaborative will be to accelerate the development of new payment models and overcome existing business barriers.

For example, a lack of trust between payers and providers could impede efforts to move to alternative payment methods, and blockchain has the potential to create shared, secure efficiencies.

“Sentara is dedicated to leveraging information technology to continuously improve health every day,” said Mike Reagin, Sentara Healthcare senior vice president and chief information and innovation officer.

“Blockchain is poised to help solve some of healthcare's most crucial data security and IT interoperability issues as we look to implement new customer-centric healthcare delivery models.”

Other collaboratives have also committed to using blockchain to solve pressing issues in healthcare. The Pistoia Alliance, a global, non-profit alliance of life sciences stakeholders, recently launched the next phase of its blockchain project, which will involve exploring how blockchain can improve data integrity, sharing, and identity.

The Pistoia Alliance also aims to address misconceptions about blockchain technology, and to increase adoption of blockchain among healthcare, pharmaceutical, and life sciences organizations.

“There are still many misconceptions about blockchain in the life science industry that we need to work hard to overcome,” said Jake Dreier, Blockchain Project Manager and Consultant for The Pistoia Alliance.

“Unfortunately, people’s perceptions have led to some organizations completely avoiding blockchain technology, and many others unsure of how it can benefit them. This is why the Pistoia Alliance is supporting a collaborative effort to help the industry get the most out of the technology.”

By joining the healthcare blockchain network, Cigna and Sentara Healthcare are contributing to the advancement of healthcare blockchain.

The healthcare blockchain network is committed to open, inclusive participation. The collaborative will continue to add members in the future, including other healthcare organizations, providers, and startups, and members will continue to identify new use cases for blockchain in healthcare.

“Cigna sees enormous potential for blockchain to improve the way we harness insights across the healthcare ecosystem to better serve our customers and communities,” said Mark Boxer, executive vice president and chief information officer, Cigna.

“By working together and joining the health utility network as a founding member, we have a significant opportunity to create new efficiencies that will lead to improved whole person health and wellness outcomes for our customers and clients.”

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